Bernard Early was born in County Leitrim, Ireland, November 15th 1892. He was the son of Charles and Alice Gallogly Early and emigrated to the United States where he lived in New Haven and later Hamden, Connecticut. He had two sisters and three brothers: Mrs. Mary McQueeney and Charles Early remained in Ireland; James Early, John Early and Mrs. Patrick Flynn also emigrated to New Haven, Connecticut.
Early joined the U.S. Army during World War I only six years after coming to the States. On the 8th of October in 1918, Sgt. Early led a 17-man squad from Company G of the 328th Infantry in the Argonne Forrest of France. This detachment of 17 men staged a surprise attack on a platoon of 200 Germans, capturing 132 of them. Seargent Early was severely wounded by machine gun fire during the battle. In an account by E. Loyd Ellis, the person who carried Early back to the first aid station, "he came out of woods and lay down on my stretcher with a hole in his back so large you could see his kidney." After six months in a French Hospital, with little improvement, a French Doctor determined that there still might be more shrapnel in him. They opened him up again, found and removed it. He spent almost a year in France recovering before being able to return home.
Eleven years later he was presented the Distinguished Service Cross on 10/5/1929, by Assistant Secretary of War Patrick J. Hurley. The citation read as follows:
Bernard Early, Army Serial No. 19102167, formally sergeant, Company G. 328th Infantry, 82nd Division, American Expeditionary Forces. For extraordinary heroism in action near Chatel-Cheherry, France. October 8th 1918 when in command of a party of 17 men Sergeant Early flanked a German Battalion, upon being suddenly confronted by about 200 of the enemy Sergeant Early decided to attack despite the disparity of numbers. By his quick decision and excellent leadership Sergeant Early effected a successful surprise attack which he led and commanded until severely wounded by enemy machine gun fire. The conspicuous gallantry and outstanding leadership on the part of Sergeant Early so inspired the remainder of his small command that it continued to attack until the enemy battalion was either killed or taken prisoner.
He always told his friends that everyone aided in capturing the German platoon. On the day he received the Distinguished Service Cross, he said "I feel all of us who took part in the exploit should share in the recognition."
Bernard Early went on to marry Catherine Hines. They had fours sons: Charles, Bernard, John and James, and one daughter Catherine.